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Baring the Breast for Art


Originally published in September-October 2004 icon

Bare breast 1 Bare breast 2 Bare breast 3

"I never showed my body before", says Sally Arnold who had a mastectomy in millennium year "but I´m happy to be photographed now - especially as women have said my portrait eased their fears of facing breast cancer." Sally, 54, was snapped by her sister-in-law, west country photographer Lorna Yabsley. for a new, taboo-toppling exhibition "of breast cancer in all its awful beauty."

Having made a virtue of the scar others might hide away in embarrassment and sorrow, Sally has had hers tastefully tattoo-ed with elegant swirls, and the boyfriend (with whom she got together after her surgery) loves it: "I see the design as a battle scar that helps me celebrate survival´ says Sally, who started her brilliant career as nanny to Jade Jagger, went on to become Tour Manager to The Who and The Rolling Stones, and triumphed as an organiser of charity events for Paul Newman, Dire Straits and Comic Relief.

Open quotesI never showed my body before but I´m happy to be photographed nowClose quotes

Some of Lorna´s pictures have already been shown in Rome, at Derriford Hospital, Plymouth and at Guy´s Hospital in London where it could find a permanent home. Meanwhile she is hoping to display them at the launch of Icon´s charity CANCERactive. Sometimes tough to view, but always true and full of humanity, Lornas photographs air the images and issues of breast cancer that are still quite literally kept under wraps.

Lorna herself fought breast cancer some years before her sister-in-law, Sally. She was diagnosed at 33, when newly separated with a two year old daughter to raise. The self-portrait that kicked Lorna´s project into being seems suitably savage - it shows her wielding a chainsaw. Sally is bedecked with bindweed for her photograph - Lorna felt its curly stems resembled her sister-in-law´s pretty tattoo while its uncurbed growth mirrored cancer cells out of control.

Just as Icon supports Lorna, so the sisters-in-law hope to help our new charity: "If only CANCERactive had been there with its advocates when I was diagnosed" sighs Sally: "At such a vulnerable time you feel pushed in so many directions. You don´t know what to door where to go."

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